Lower Class Brats: This Is Real!: DVD

Aug 21, 2008

When digging down deep into the living dirt of punk rock, itself a sub-species of rock’n’roll music, you begin to feel like an entomologist as you discover new and exotic sub-sub-species. Curious little cross-breeds and inbreds with their own unique physical attributes and behaviors, their own specialized ways to show off their tribal punkness. Take this Clockwork punk sub-sub-species, for instance. It is, typically, a hardcore style of punk rock that’s known as “street punk,” but what makes it unique is that many of the individual musicians dress up in rakishly flamboyant costumes similar to those worn by the main protagonists in a 1971 Stanley Kubrick film entitled, AClockwork Orange; which is to say they adorn themselves in all-white clothing, suspenders, and bowler hats like those worn by Laurel and Hardy. And they cherry pick the coolest-sounding “nadsat” words from the film and use them for scary-sounding song titles and lyrics. Major Accident and the stars of this particular DVD, the Lower Class Brats, are two prime examples of this Clockwork punk sub-sub-species. Now if I were something along the lines of a punk rock entomologist, it would not be appropriate for me to judge the various sub-sub-species, but since my own sub-sub-species is that of a Razorcake reviewer, I can mouth off to my heart’s content. So, having said that, let me throw this out there: the whole Clockwork-o-philia and droog costume thing seems to me not all that different than the dorks who dress up like Barnabas Collins in fangs and Dracula capes and go to Dark Shadows conventions. There’s just something uncomfortably “trekkie” about it to me. Then again, Glenn Danzig, Doyle, and Jerry Only used to dress up like steroid vampires and write songs using titles from B-horror films and that never prevented the Misfits from being one of my all time favorite bands. And then there was the Mummies, too. And, of course, the Hanson Brothers obviously got their inspiration, as well as lifted their schtick, from the 1977 movie Slapshot. So maybe I’m just being a hypocrite. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Still, something seems different between those bands and the Lower Class Brats and it probably has something to do with the degree to which their respective tongues are firmly in cheek. After watching the brief “documentary” on this DVD and listening to these LCB gents wax philosophic about the cosmic significance of all things Clockwork, I’d say their tongues are not so much in cheek as they are doing fluttering whirligigs in Stanley Kubrick’s asshole. Standing posed in various scenes of urban decay—sewers and the like—they talk about Kubrik’s movie and Burgess’s book with the reverential tones of a pack of starched Jehovah’s Witnesses. And then, just to make sure you know they’re still punk, they slip in a few references to binge drinking and a couple fart jokes.
But as much as punk is about drinking and farting, it’s really supposed to be about the music and that’s what’s most prominently featured on This Is Real. To drive home the point, a bonus CD of the “New Seditionaries” demos is included with the DVD, which itself features footage (of varying quality) from LCB live shows dating back to 1996. So if you’re a Clockie—or even if you’re like me and just like good thumping street punk—you’ve got plenty to feast your ears on here. But as everyone knows, with the sub-sub-species of street punk, there’s nothing new under the sun and LCB are no exception. As cute as their costumes may be, they’re still only cranking out serviceable, garden-variety street punk. But what’s wrong with that? Is there any street punk anywhere that isn’t garden variety? LCB’s music is anthemic, sometimes even catchy, and it rides on the chunky metal powerchords of a Mr. “Marty Volume”—who, by the way, with his non-Clockworky heavy metal hair and outfit, looks like one of Mick Mars’ socks that somehow got mixed up into LCB’s laundry basket.  
So yeah, the band has a fascination and/or preoccupation with A Clockwork Orange, but I’m probably making too much of it. It is a great movie, and an even better book, and both are smorgasbords spilling over with lurid tales of subversion and anti-authoritarian themes that make you feel punky all over. It’s easy to see how someone could get sucked into that. And to be honest, I, myself, have a similar fascination with an equally subversive and anti-authoritarian book known as The Cat in the Hat. In fact, maybe I’ll start a new sub-sub-species called Cat in the Hat punk and my band will play loud angry music while dressed in big red bow ties and tall red and white hats. The lyrics about Loraxes and Sneetches and pants with nobody in them will virtually write themselves. Wow, I really think I might be on to something here. –Aphid Peewit (TKO, 8941 Atlanta Ave. #505, Huntington Beach, CA92646)